Jeffrey Dean Morgan Almost Quit Acting Before His Breakout Role in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood. While many fans know him for his roles as the menacing Negan on The Walking Dead and his long-running role as John Winchester on The CW’s Supernatural, true fans of the actor will know that his breakout role came from Season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Morgan starred as Denny Duquette on Grey’s Anatomy, and 15 years after leaving the series, he’s still one of the most talked-about characters on the show. However, Morgan almost never snagged the role. In fact, just years before getting his shot as Denny, the 54-year-old nearly quit acting altogether.

Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan smirks into the camera
Jeffrey Dean Morgan | Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fans adored Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Denny Duquette

Much of Season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy focused on Isobel “Izzie” Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and Denny. Denny was constantly in and out of the hospital due to a heart condition. Though he was constantly bedridden, he was a flirt and a gentleman and wooed Izzie with his charismatic personality.

Fans absolutely fell in love with the Izzie/Denny storyline. “No one knew how much the story would take on a life of its own,” Morgan told the Los Angeles Times in 2006. “I don’t think even Shonda knew how the fans would be drawn to the romance. It was pretty incredible. I definitely give it to the writers that they created a guy who could charm a room without moving, but it took a lot of effort sometimes.”

Sadly despire reciving a heart transpalent, Denny dies at the end of Season 2, leaving Izzie and fans devestated. Still, it was a life-changing role for Morgan.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Denny cuddles with Katherine Heigl as Izzie on 'Grey's Anatomy
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Denny and Katherine Heigl as Izzie on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | ABC

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Alum Jeffrey Dean Morgan Says He Pleaded With Shonda Rhimes to Keep Denny Duquette Alive

Jeffrey Dean Morgan says ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ changed his life

Morgan has already appeared on Supernatural before booking his role on Grey’s Anatomy. However, after seeing how much fans adored Denny, he begged Shonda Rhimes to keep him past his 23-episode contract.

“Please, please, just let me live,” he remembered asking Rhimes. Morgan credits his role on Grey’s for changing his life. “That’s what changed my life,” Morgan explained on the YouTube show Hot Ones.  “Being Denny, where I never got out of bed, is why [director] Zack Snyder hired me to be the Comedian [in the 2009 comic book adaptation Watchmen]. That’s how special that was.”

However, the actor nearly quit acting in the years leading up to landing his role on Grey’s. If he had done so, we would’ve never gotten to know Denny, Negan, or any of the other roles he’s starred in.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan almost quit acting before landing his role on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

In 2003, just a couple of years before landing his role on Grey’s, Morgan starred in one episode of  Star Trek: Enterprise. He starred as Xindi-Reptilian, but the makeup and prosthetics were unbearable for him.

“It turns out I’m claustrophobic. I had a really hard time doing the makeup process, and I had straws in my nose,” Morgan explained on Hot Ones. “I’ve never been on a set where I went home at night and just thought, ‘What am I doing? I’ve made the worst f*cking decision of my life. I don’t ever want to be an actor again.’ Like, I was sure that this was just wrong, and it almost made me quit. It was, it was horrible.”

Thankfully, Morgan didn’t stop acting.